Owning A Piece Of The Mackinac Bridge, One Local’s Story

By Lynne Beauchamp, lbeauchamp@thesuntimesnews.com

After watching a public TV program on the Mackinac Bridge, Dexter Township resident Mike Compton discovered a website where the Mackinac Bridge Authority was selling parts of the bridge on a government auction website.

Compton said it was a chance of a lifetime. To own an original piece of the Mackinac Bridge, a steel grating that was being replaced with new. A piece of Michigan’s history.

He wondered how much he was willing to bid and if he was the winning bidder, how would he transport a 40 feet long steel section weighing over 5,000 pounds back to his Dexter home.

But he bided anyway.

In 2017, Compton began the bidding process at $25. He said the bidding was slow at first, but soon found himself in a bidding war with another individual who was not giving up the fight that easily. The bid was soon at $1000. Compton thought to himself that the whole idea of buying this original bridge grating laid in 1957 was crazy, but also realized the opportunity, in his lifetime, would never be available again.

Compton won the bidding war but wished to keep quiet on the final price paid.

He was then faced with how to get his part of the Mighty Mack home. He said he worked out some of the details with the Mackinac Bridge Authority who, he said, not only agreed to load the grating on to his trailer but also agreed to cut the grating in half for transporting.  He said he ended up buying a car hauling trailer and began the road trip with his father, John.

On May 29, 2017, the duo left for St. Ignace. Once there they checked into their hotel and enjoyed a white fish dinner at The Galley Restaurant. Compton said the next morning they left to meet the Mackinac Bridge Authority, but not without incident.

“It was difficult to get Dad away from the hotel,” said Compton. “He was fascinated by the free waffles!”

Upon arriving at the Bridge Authority, Compton said he signed paperwork including a bill of sale and hold harmless agreement. While there, Compton was told by the Bridge Authority another individual was in an auto accident and almost died while transporting his piece of the Mackinac Bridge. He said the Bridge Authority proceeded to cut his grating in half before loading on to the trailer for his trip home. Compton was in charge of securing the load before leaving.

Fortunately, the trip back home to Dexter was uneventful but slow, giving Compton plenty of time to consider what to do with his “Piece of Mack.” Compton decided to sculpt and sell pieces during Dexter Daze.

He will be at Monument Park on Friday August 10 from 10am-8pm and Saturday August 11 from 10am-6pm. For more information on Compton and his story and artwork visit www.PieceofMac.info.

Seth Kinker

Reporter/Digital Media for The Sun Times News

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